Jeremiah (Theological Message).handout

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A.    Key statement of the breach of covenant (2:11-13)

B.      The two-fold nature of the breach of covenant


Jeremiah repeatedly uses the term                                             (2:19; 3:6, 8, 11, 12, 14, 22).  This word backsliding comes from the Hebrew root to turn or return (shub).[1]  To backslide is to turn away from the Lord (see Prov. 1:32).  This turning away from the Lord or forsaking the true God manifests itself in various ways.


a.        A rejection of God’s Words (9:13; 16:11)

b.       A rejection of God’s messengers (7:25-26; 25:4, 7)

c.        Social injustice—sins against our fellow man (2:34; 5:26-28; 9:3-6; 22:16)

d.       Religious ritual divorced from heart religion

                The                                                          (7:1-20; 26:1-9)

e.        Insincere repentance

This includes half-hearted repentance (3:10) and only seeking God in crises (34:8-20).

Ultimately, Jeremiah reveals that what God wanted in His covenant with Judah was a relationship. 



Idolatry is one of the most common themes found in the book of Jeremiah[2] (1:16; 2:5, 8, 11-13, 20-25, 27-28, 32-33; 3:1-2, 8-9; 7:18, 30-31; 8:19; 10:1-5, 8-11, 14-15; 11:10, 13; 19:4-5; 44:3, 8, 17-19).  This is the primary sin of the people condemned in Jeremiah. 

In Jeremiah, idolatry is not only spiritual harlotry and a breach of covenant; it is also spiritual insanity.  Jeremiah uses terms like emptiness (2:5; 8:19; 10:3, 8, 15; 14:22; 51:18)[3] and falsehood (10:14; 13:25; lit. “a lie”) to describe idols.

b.       Trust in man (e.g., foreign nations) (2:14-19, 36-37; 17:5-6; 37:7-9)

c.        False prophets (2:8; 5:31; 6:14; 14:13-16; 23:9-40; 27:9-10, 14-18; 28:1-17; 29:8-9, 15, 21-23)

C.     The root of the breach of covenant

The root of the problem is the                                              (5:23; 7:24; 13:10; 16:12; 18:12). 

The only remedy is a miracle, a circumcision of the heart (9:26)—in NT terms,                                                             .  Man needs a spiritual heart transplant or new life—that supernatural work of regeneration that only the Spirit of God can do.  That is exactly what God plans to give His people in the New Covenant.  He will put His Law within them and write it on their heart (Jer. 31:33; cf. Ezek. 36:25-27)!


Judgment is the primary theme of the book of Jeremiah.  In Jeremiah’s call to the ministry, four of the six verbs used to describe his ministry are words of judgment (1:10).  Jeremiah’s primary ministry would be to announce judgment—judgment that would raze the nation to the ground, stripping it to its roots, and prepare the way for future construction (restoration).  Jeremiah was God’s final call to Judah.

A.    Source

1.        God Himself (4:6; 16:13; the Potter of Jeremiah 18—18:11)

2.        From the North (Babylon):  4:6; 6:1, 22; the seething pot—1:13-16


B.      Length (70 years—Jer. 25:8-12; 29:10)


  1. Recipients

1.        The populace (6:12, 19; 9:15; 13:13-14)

2.        The house of David (21:11-14; 22:1-8, 24-30; 36:29-30)

3.        The religious leaders:  the prophets and priests (8:1; 13:13; 23:12, 15, 19-20, 39-40)

4.        The Temple and the chosen city of Jerusalem (7:14; 12:7; 25:29; 26:6)

5.        All nations (25:15-28; chs. 46-51)—no nation (including Babylon!) is exempt from divine judgment.

D.    Purposes

1.        “Retributive” (Kidner, 166):  16:18 (mishneh—perhaps refers to an equal payback); 30:14

2.        “Corrective” (Kidner, 166):  Jer. 10:24

3.        Preparatory—Judgment is a necessary preparation for restoration (Jer. 31:27-28).

E.     Nature

1.        Certain

Since Manasseh (15:4).  Pictured by the almond branch (1:11-12):  God will watch over His Words.

2.        “A moral necessity” (Kidner, 166):  5:7, 9, 29

3.        Self-inflicted[4] (5:31; 6:19; 2:17; 4:18; 5:25)

4.        Limited[5]

“[Y]et will I not make a full end” (4:27; 5:10, 18; 30:11).

A remnant shall remain (23:3; 24:4-7; 29:10-14; 31:7).

Jehoiachin, king of Judah, was exalted after 37 years in prison (52:31-34).

5.        Devastating

Pictured by the completely                                             linen waistband (13:1-11) 

Pictured by the                                that were completely filled with wine (13:12-14):  complete destruction

Pictured by the                                                                shattered clay jar (19:1-15)


A.     Characteristics of the New Covenant 

1.        Unbreakable (31:32)

2.        Unilateral (31:31)

3.        Made with Judah and Israel (31:31; Rom. 11:25-27)

4.        Eternal (32:40; cf. 31:35-37)

5.        Internal[6] (31:33; cf. II Cor. 3:3)


In both covenants, the central feature is the Law of God, but the presentation of that Word is different. 

The law of the Lord thus forms, in the old as well as in the new covenant, the kernel and essence of the relation instituted between the Lord and His people; and the difference between the two consists merely in this, that the will of God as expressed in the law under the old covenant was presented externally to the people, while under the new covenant it is to become an internal principle of life (K&D, 38). 

Because the new covenant is internal, it is also                                        .  This should remind us that the old covenant—the law—had no power to give life or righteousness (Gal. 3:21).  It was weak (Rom. 8:3).  God intended for it to show us our sinfulness—to shut us up to sin and point us to the Messiah.  Its purpose was to show us our need of regeneration.  The old covenant could only reveal sin; it could not deal with sin.

6.        Relational

7.        Personal (“direct”[7])

8.        Characterized by forgiveness of sin (suggesting a full and final atonement; 31:34)

B.     The time of the fulfillment of the New Covenant 

1.        It is a future time (“the days come”).

2.        It will take place after or simultaneously with a                                                            of Israel to their land—in other words, Israel will enjoy the new covenant in the land (Jer. 32:37-41).

3.        It will be connected with the                                                                         (33:14-16—note the reference to forgiveness of sin in 33:8, which is part of the new covenant).

4.        It is linked with Israel’s national                                                   (Rom. 11:25-27).

  1. The relationship between the New Covenant and the Davidic Covenant (Jer. 33:15-21)

The “                                              ” of Romans 11:26, who will come and inaugurate the New Covenant (Rom. 11:27), is none other than the Branch of David in Jeremiah 33:15-16.  The New Covenant cannot be fulfilled without the presence of its Mediator, the Messianic Davidic King.

D.    The New Covenant and its relationship to New Testament believers

Romans 11:25-27 gives us insight into the relationship of the New Covenant to New Testament believers.  Paul has just discussed the grafting in of the Gentiles in place of the Jews.  But this did not fulfill the New Covenant; Paul is looking for its fulfillment after the time of the Gentiles.  Based on Romans 11:11, 15-24, the church is enjoying the privileges or benefits of the New Covenant, even though the New Covenant is not fulfilled in them.  Even though the covenant was not “made” with us, it is being “ministered” to us.[8]


[1] Shub is also the key word for repentance in Jeremiah.  When one turns away, then one needs to return (e.g., 3:12, 22; 8:5).

[2] “Israel’s idolatry is such a prominent theme in this book that it is mentioned in 18 of the first 19 chapters as well as in some of the later chapters; the key chapters are 2, 3, 10, 11, and 44.”  Robert D. Bell, Biblical Viewpoint:  Focus on Jeremiah, 61.

[3] The Hebrew word is hebel, the same word so often translated “vanity” in Ecclesiastes.

[4] Derek Kidner calls this a “logical necessity.”  The Message of Jeremiah, 167.

[5] Kidner terms this a “controlled operation” (p. 167).

[6] J. Barton Payne, Theology of the Older Testament, 115.

[7] Payne, 115.

[8] F. W. Grant quoted in Pentecost, Things to Come, 123.

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